Merkel GERMANY ELECTIONS.jpg
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and prime candidate Lorenz Caffier (CDU) sign autographs during the official end of the election campaign in Bad Doberan, Germany, 3 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/Bernd Wuestneck

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday took responsibility for the electoral losses of her Christian Democrats (CDU) in her home state, but defended her course in the refugee crisis, saying "the decisions taken in the last few months were right."

At 20.8-per-cent support, the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) replaced Merkel's CDU as the second-strongest party in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where a national debate about refugee integration and the threat of terrorism crowded out local issues.

"Of course this has something to do with the refugee policies, so I am responsible," Merkel said at the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in China. However she maintained that her decisions in recent months were right.

The CDU's general secretary Peter Tauber said earlier Monday that Merkel's government had already introduced a series of measures to reduce the refugee influx, integrate the 1.1 million migrants that arrived in 2015 and improve security in the country.

"It takes time for the measures to work and to win back the trust that has been lost," Tauber said during a press conference.

Leif-Erik Holm, who heads the AfD in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said that the election result should act as a warning to the government to rethink its open-arms refugee policies and that "today could mark the beginning of the end of the chancellery of Angela Merkel."

The CDU fell to 19 per cent of the vote in the north-eastern state in the former East Germany, but is nonetheless likely to form another coalition with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which won 30.6-per-cent of the vote in Sunday's poll.

Erwin Sellering, the SPD premier in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, said Monday that the state should be proud of what it has achieved since German reunification in 1990 and that he was confident voters "wouldn't let the AfD ruin that."

The AfD has capitalized on widespread discontent about the arrival of 1.1 million migrants in Germany in 2015, which it argues resulted from Merkel's promise of sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

Its eurosceptic, anti-migrant message has propelled it into third place in national opinion polls, and it is likely to enter the Bundestag parliament after a general election next year.

"The fact that a right-wing extremist party that agitates and mobilizes against minorities in a disgustingly blunt manner can rise in such an unbridled way is a nightmare come true," said Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

The leaders of right-wing parties in Italy and France applauded the AfD's electoral success.

"What was not possible yesterday has become possible: the patriots of the AfD have swept away Mrs Merkel's party," Marine Le Pen of the right-wing Front National tweeted late Sunday.

"Fantastic vote in Germany: a big slap for Merkel in her region and a triumph for Alternative for Germany, allied with the [Northern] League and Le Pen," Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right Northern League, said on Facebook.

More on this story

German Jewish leader: AfD's election success is "nightmare come true"

The rise of right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is a "nightmare," a prominent member of the country's Jewish community said Monday, a day after the party won 20.8 per cent of the vote in the home state of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel's party falls behind right-wing AfD in her home state

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party (CDU) has lost its position as second-strongest party in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), according to official preliminary results.

Latest news

19-year-old men arrested for putting up anti-Serb stickers in Vukovar, minister condemns incident

Police have arrested a 19-year-old man, suspected of putting up anti-Serb stickers reading  "Serbian Family Tree" with an image of people hanging from a tree and the face of Ante Pavelic, Croatian fascist dictator who led the World War II Ustasha movement and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), at bus stops along Trpinjska Street in the eastern Croatian town of Vukovar.

Britain faces highest terrorism threat since 1970s, official says

Britain faces its highest threat of terrorism since the 1970s, when the Irish Republican Army planned a series of bomb attacks, a legal official said on Sunday.

Monitor: Syrian regime forces killed in fighting near Lebanon border

Dozens of Syrian regime troops were killed and injured in an attack on Sunday by hardline jihadists led by an al-Qaeda-linked group near the Lebanese border, a monitor said.

Anarchist riots hit central Athens district

Clashes broke out between Greek police and self-styled anarchists in a central Athens neighbourhood early Sunday.

Thousands more affected by noise under Berlin flight route change

Thousands more residents in Berlin could be affected by aircraft noise due to changes in a flight route to a long-delayed new international airport.

Details emerge on Heidelberg car-ramming as police seek motive

The car used to ram into crowds in the south-western German town of Heidelberg was rented in Hamburg, police said Sunday, as they continued to search for a motive for the incident.

Fire at asylum seeker accommodation in Sweden

A fire overnight at an accommodation centre for asylum seekers in Sweden caused injuries to at least a dozen residents, police said on Sunday.

Analysts: Croatia's economy rises 3.3%, hitting new high since 2008

Croatia's economy expanded 3.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2016, compared to Q4 2015, according to projections of economic analysts polled by Hina, who ascribe this record high rise to increasing personal consumption, higher industrial output rates and growing investments.

Fate of German hostage in Philippines unknown as deadline passes

The fate of a 70-year-old German man held captive for three months in the southern Philippines was unknown after a deadline for a ransom to be paid passed Sunday, a military spokesman said.

Dengue fever risk growing in Thailand, authorities say

Dengue fever is posing a greater threat in Thailand, particularly in the southern region, the country's Disease Control Department said Sunday, as the number of people killed by the mosquito-borne disease this year stands at six.

Brexit fears plague locals and expats alike in southern Spain

As Britain's departure from the EU approaches, the anxiety is most palpable on Spain's Costa del Sol, where so many Britons live. What will happen to the economy if the expats one day have to leave?

'La La Land,' politics to share spotlight at Oscars

The Oscars will take the stage Sunday for an awards ceremony whose outcome feels like a foregone conclusion - a win, or 10, for "La La Land."